"If you like the Boosted Rev, you're going to love this."
Sonny Vu, CEO of Arevo, the 3D printing company behind the carbon fiber Superstrata e-bike, is tackling electric kick scooters next with the Scotsman, undeterred by the challenges of shipping e-bikes to customers.
Before we talk about the Scotsman, which is a — you guessed it — 3D-printed carbon fiber e-scooter, designed to surpass Boosted's (RIP) ill-fated Rev in almost every way, I ask for an update on the Superstrata. Since the e-bike launched last summer, there have been a number of production setbacks. It turns out Vu underestimated how difficult it'd be to mass 3D print thousands of carbon fiber e-bike frames. Certain design elements like the rear light changed and Arevo has not been able to ramp up 3D printing the carbon fiber frames due to insufficient printers and global component shortages.
"[Printing] 3,500 bikes… that's another level of hard," Vu tells me over Zoom (again). "We stopped printing bikes and we just focused on making printers. We've got 70 printers and sometime this summer they'll all be assembled." The temporary switch was necessary to cut manufacturing lead times from 15 months down to 12 months.
The other cause for Superstrata delays: bike parts are hard to come by due to the pandemic. "No one can get components. The bike industry has been stable for the last 50 years and as of 2020, [there's been a] 200-300 percent increase and, basically, the bike supply chain could not handle it."
"I've spoken to the CEO at one of the four largest bike companies and he said that he's only getting 40 percent of the components that he needs." Vu expressed hope the supply chain would rebound soon and thanked customers for being patient.
Naturally, Vu's update leads right into my next question: how can Arevo 3D print and sell carbon fiber electric scooters if it can't even get promised e-bikes into peoples' hands?
Besides the fact that the Scotsman is a separate brand, Vu explained to me that the supply chain for e-scooter components isn't constrained. "The supply chain is mostly around batteries and motors, so it's much larger and more robust."
E-scooter frames made of carbon fiber also are easier to 3D print.
E-scooter frames made of carbon fiber also are easier to 3D print with fewer extrusions needed. For the Scotsman, Arevo's going with a unibody carbon fiber design again. Everything — frame, stem, handlebar, and deck — is made of the lightweight material. And just like the Superstrata, it's aimed at the premium market.
Vu is not shy about how expensive it is: $3,000 for a 500Wh battery with two 250W dual-motors (Scotsman 500); $3,500 for a 1,000Wh battery with two 500W dual-motors (Scotsman 1000), and $4,500 for 1,100Wh with dual 1000W motors (Scotsman 2000). If you're balking at the prices, the Scotsman is not for you. "We recognize it's for a pretty premium segment at $3,000-3,500. But if you want a custom-made carbon fiber scooter, this is it."
Surpassing the Rev
Coming from Arevo, it's no surprise the Scotsman looks the part of an e-scooter straight out of a sci-fi movie. It has very strong Tron vibes — at least on the blue model (it'll be available in five basic colors and two premium shades). You can tell this thing is designed to look badass on the streets.
Right from the jump, Vu tells me that they wanted to build an e-scooter with power and reliability. Their mission wasn't to build another dinky Xiaomi e-scooter that sells for a few hundred dollars. It's to compete with the best — and beat them. He says the goalposts for the Scotsman were the Boosted Rev and the Inokim OXO. Vu took a moment to dunk on Unagi and Ninebot e-scooters, too.
If you know anything about e-scooters, you know that the market is basically split into two types of the two-wheeled transporters: inexpensive single-motor e-scooters like the ones used for many scootershare services like Lime or Bird and expensive "last-mile" personal e-scooters like the Rev and Inokim OXO that usually come with dual-motors. The tradeoff is, of course, performance, but also weight and features. Personal e-scooters tend to be much heavier and come with larger tires and better suspension, as well as myriad app connectivity and wireless tech.
Just like the Superstrata was Arevo's first bike, the Scotsman is the company's first foray into e-scooters. With zero experience, Vu had to assemble the "dream team" for the carbon fiber e-scooter. For the Scotsman's batteries, he enlisted Jason Wong, the CEO of Omnicharge, a company that specializes in making battery banks. Wong was also managing director at Razor between 2004-2014 so he knows a thing or two about kick scooters. The Scotsman also is backed by Khosla Ventures, the same VC that backed Boosted.
Additionally, a source close to Input confirmed to us that Vu and the Scotsman team have been receiving advice from a former Boosted c-suite executive. And as if that weren’t enough, you have the designer of the Scotsman: Josh Morenstein, founder of Branch Creative, the same folks behind the Bird Two e-scooter. Vu assembled a dream team indeed.
With so many e-scooter experts in the house, there's a lot of pressure (no pun intended) on the Scotsman to become the spiritual successor to the Rev. Technically speaking, the Scotsman checks all the boxes on the spec sheet. Though there are three versions of the Scotsman, each with different battery capacities, the 500 is really designed for regions like Japan where it's illegal to exceed 600W of power says Vu. The 1000 and the 2000 models are aimed at the U.S. and Europe.
The goalposts for the Scotsman were the Boosted Rev and the Inokim OXO.
Compared to the Rev, the Scotsman 1000 and 2000 lap it. The 1000 and 2000 are capable of a max speed of 31 mph and 45 mph, respectively; the Rev only does 24 mph. All three e-scooter models get 70 miles of range; the Rev only gets 22 miles. They all come with dual battery bays; the 500 only has a single 500Wh battery, but you can add another separately.
The batteries are removable by design and can be used to charge up a laptop or phone (of course, because they're made by Omnicharge). "It makes it easier to carry around during the day. You take the battery out and put it in your backpack; it's kind of a beefy battery (around 3 kilograms)." And with dual motors on all three models, the scooter's capable of some serious uphill climb: 30, 35, and 50 percent, respectively. Rounding out the Scotsman are two regenerative brakes, a disc brake, LED head and taillights, and an LCD screen.
For wheels, the e-scooter has two large 10-inch tires. That's one inch larger than the 9-inch wheels on the Rev. These larger tires greatly improve suspension. "It's actually a composite suspension so it actually bends. It's one of our innovations," says Vu. "All of the top scooters we noticed, have really good suspension, so it's something we spent a lot of time on."
The Scotsman also has a built-in front-facing 1080p camera (150 degrees) because the team noticed people love to upload GoPro hyperlapses of their rides to YouTube. (I count myself in this group!) When asked if the camera would be removable or if there would be a service to replace or repair it if it gets damaged, Vu said there wasn't any plan for now, but they would look into maybe a cover for it.
Last, but not least, there's a full suite of tech inside of the Scotsman. Everything from Bluetooth, LTE-M, and GPS to locate it if it's lost or stolen to app connectivity. It’s clear Vu and company seemingly didn't scrimp.
Where the Scotsman doesn't deviate from the Rev too much is weight: it's 46.5 pounds (50.5 pounds for the 2000) versus the Rev's 46 pounds. Take out the batteries, which each weigh about 6.5 pounds, and you shed some weight. But that's just for one battery. If you've got two batteries like in the 1000 and 2000, you're looking at 54 and 57 pounds, respectively. That's a heavy e-scooter. Even without the batteries, it's a heavy e-scooter and makes a strong case the carbon fiber body is really just for aesthetics as opposed to significant weight reduction.
“We went overboard a little bit so there's a bit of overkill here.”
Overall, Vu admits the team "went overboard a little bit so there's a bit of overkill here" but it was all in the pursuit of a safer riding experience. As someone who owns a Rev, I can confirm that the Rev's bulkiness compared to single-motor scooters provides a much safer ride in the streets, especially over bumpy roads (and potholes).
The Scotsman wouldn't be an Arevo product if it wasn't custom-made for you. Again, just like the Superstrata, Arevo's betting that a very elite group of customers will appreciate the custom-fit 3D printed carbon fiber frame. The length of the stem and handlebars can be printed to better accommodate different heights and arm lengths.
Vu once again boasted the advantages of Arevo's continuous carbon fiber printing. Instead of multiple carbon fiber pieces or partially mixed composite pieces, he says the Scotsman has a unibody carbon fiber frame. This is supposed to add strength and rigidity as well as elegance.
"The fold is actually under the stem, not on the stem," says Vu. "We found this easier to manage. We tried a bunch of configurations. We wanted this big light and we didn't want to have to break the light. It didn't look good when you put a big gash here on the stem."
I'll be the judge of how well that works whenever Arevo gets around to letting me test ride on one. The Rev has one of the worst folding mechanism designs with a flimsy stem latch. It was so poorly conceived and faulty that it broke one reporter's finger when the latch came undone.
I asked about the possibility of printing out replacement parts. There are no plans at the moment, but it's something he says the company could consider if there's enough demand from customers.
Products like the Superstrata and Scotsman are big gambles if they were to be sold through traditional channels. If there aren't enough customers willing to put down tons of cash for the premium construction, the startups behind them could go under with unsold inventory piled up in a warehouse somewhere.
"We're leaning into a more elevated experience in terms of electric scooters," Vu told me before we both logged off Zoom.
To reduce the risk, Arevo's leaning on another Indiegogo campaign. Like all crowdfunding projects, there's a high probability of running into all kinds of bottlenecks at every stage of production — as with the Superstrata. There's no guarantee the Scotsman will be perfect or deliver on all of its features. That's the calculated risk you take on as a backer.
How much is an overkill e-scooter worth to you? How badly do you want a spiritual successor to the Boosted Rev? Pre-orders for the Scotsman start today with shipping in December.